Chase's room reflected his character as I knew it, neatly ordered and subtle colors and furnishings, with the occasional splash of style or bold color. His bed and night tables were bland and uninteresting but his dresser and desk were a stylish blend of Japanese traditional and modern angular designs. The desk sat on a magenta area rug that went surprisingly well with the muted colors in the rest of the room.
"Did you pick this style yourself?" I asked him.
"Yes, well the desk and the chest of drawers, oh and the rug. I've been slowly finding a style that I like," Chase smiled shyly as though embarrassed to have a sense of style.
"I thought so, it really looks nice, I love the desk and the rug, what is that wood?
"It's Thai Mahogany, it's more reddish than some other species and the finish is a light oil to seal the grain," he answered, demonstrating a knowledge of furniture building on a scale I didn't expect.
"Is this a local craftsman?"
"Yes, Mr. Ozaki, he's down at First and Spokane near the old Buffalo Sanitary Wipers building."
"Wait a minute, Buffalo Sanitary….?"
"Wipers, yes it's a strange name for a business. And no it has nothing to do with bison hygiene in case you were wondering," Chase giggled.
"I would be lying if I said it never crossed my mind."
"Maybe I could get him to build something for me; my furniture, if it survives the trip is all antique, Craftsman and Mission style but a piece like your desk would fit nicely."
"We could go see him tomorrow, Carter has his day camp and I have nothing planned, maybe you could stay over and ride into Seattle with my dad. We can get the bus back. There's one that picks up at Spokane Street and runs all the way to the junction where we met yesterday."
"If it's okay with your dad then I'm in. Art won't mind the peace and quiet."
"That's great, Dad will be home soon and I'll clear it with him and then I'll call Mr. Ozaki and check his schedule. We may just want to take the bus because Dad leaves early. Hey, have you been to Pike Place Market yet?" Chase asked with excitement.
"No, I've heard about it from some older relatives. They said it has changed and become all mini-mall but that it used to be like Dragon Alley in the Potter books. It was full of strange antique shops and full of dust and odd smells, with some very strange shop keepers. I wish I had seen it then."
"Well, it's still a cool place and the street musicians put on a good show. There's one bunch that if you try to talk on the phone and they see you, they bunch around you and play so loud you have to hang up. It's a fun place and I think you'd enjoy it," Chase added.
We were interrupted by the sound of Carter's feet pounding the stairs and charging into his room. Chase and I went to the door and looked across the hallway. Carter had dropped his Cargo shorts and undies to his knees and was using the jug from the day before to drain his bladder. His shiny pink bottom was on display for anyone who might pass the open door.
When he had finished, Chase called out, "Hi Carter, have you given up on the toilet?"
Carter turned and faced us with his shorts still around his ankles, "No, but I was in a hurry and this was closer, I didn't want to pee my pants."
"Do you need help with the jug; is it too heavy for you to take to the bathroom and pour it down the toilet?"
"I don't know, I haven't tried to lift it." Carter turned and reached for the jug.
"No Carter, pull up your pants first, and then try, you don't want to wear that stuff."
"Oh yeah," Carter pulled up his shorts and tried again. "How can my pee be so heavy, can you help me, I don't want to spill it?"
"Chase walked over and lifted the jug, "I think this old thing is heavy to begin with Carter, but you know water weighs more than eight pounds per gallon, so pee probably weighs even more with all the minerals and stuff."
I heard the toilet flush and the water running in the sink, and then the bath where I had rinsed out the jug the day before. Carter bounced out ahead of Chase and then spotted me.
"Hi Étienne, were you here the whole time?"
"Yes Carter, come say hello."
Carter bounced across the hall and leapt into my arms as I knelt.
"Did you have a good day at camp?" I entreated.
"It was great, I caught a garter snake and it was so pretty, then I let it go by the fence. I was the only one that would touch it except our teacher."
"Was it fun to hold the snake?" Chase coaxed.
"Uh huh, he curled around my arm while I held his neck. But I turned him loose to eat bugs and slugs."
"Ooh yum, that sounds tasty," I said, grinning at him.
Carter squealed with laughter, and he hugged my neck and then hugged his brother.
Chase grinned at me from behind his little brother, he truly enjoyed being Carter's big brother. I knew then that I would truly miss those blue gray eyes that danced with laughter and yet could convey deep emotion with a glance. But we had time yet and I would take what was given and enjoy it.
"He's right you know, that jug is heavy even when it's empty," Chase remarked.
"Yes, I noticed that yesterday, I don't think that one was actually intended for use, it was probably made as a decorative piece. You see them on Antiques Roadshow all the time. The period pieces are thin porcelain and light but very strong."
"I was going to ask how you knew that. I like that show though, I think the guy with the wild suits is hilarious."
"Yeah, he looks like the descriptions of a Carpet Bagger or a carnival barker," I commented.
"Exactly!" Chase laughingly agreed."
"Are you hungry, Carter?"
"No, Ms. Fowler brought extras for Mike, Auggie and me."
"Then let's get you changed for your nap and then when you're ready you can lay down and snooze."
"Will you sing again, Étienne?" Carter requested.
"I will, if that's what you want. Let me think of something nice while we get you ready."
"Okay, I'm really tired today. We played lots of games and ran around and climbed the wall. It was great."
Chase wasted no time undressing Carter and then sliding his fleece sleeping outfit on him with practiced care. The love exchanged between these two made my heart swell and I basked in the warmth.
I sat in the chair next to Carter's bed and took his hand and began to sing Somewhere Along the Road, and as I did the day before, I projected calming images to little Carter. I hadn't realized that Chase was holding one of Carter's tiny feet in his hands and he was getting the images, too. In a few minutes, both were asleep, so I shifted Chase around so he would be comfortable and went to the toilet.
Chase was already stirring when I had finished and he sat up and pressed, "How did that happen?"
"You must have needed a short nap yourself, you dropped off quickly."
"I saw pictures almost like a movie but I was still awake and they were so beautiful. I saw a sky with two suns and a moon that looked quite large. How did I get way over here next to Carter?"
"I helped you, you were in an awkward position and I didn't want you to wake up with a stiff neck."
"But I weigh as much as you easily, how could you move me?"
"You did most of the work, I just helped you."
"Well thanks," Chase said in resignation.
"Do you sing, Chase?"
"Yes, I'm in the school choir and you should join too."
"Well, next time it comes up let's both sing to Carter, I have a song in mind that I can teach you on the bus trip," I offered.
"Learn a song on a bus? Are you nuts? Everybody will think we're weird."
"I doubt it, but those who matter won't mind and those who mind don't matter," I responded.
"Well okay, what's the song?"
"It's called The Gray Funnel Line, it's a euphemism for the Royal Navy and you can listen to it on YouTube. Let's go to your room and I'll sing it for you and then we can work out the harmonies together.
Don't mind the rain or the rolling sea
The weary night never worries me
But the hardest time in a sailor's day
Is to watch the sun as it dies away
And it's one more day on the Grey Funnel Line.
The finest ship that sails the sea
Is still a prison for the likes of me
But give me wings like Noah's dove
I'd fly up harbor to the girl I love
And it's one more day on the Grey Funnel Line.
Oh Lord if dreams were only real
I'd have my hands on that wooden wheel
And with all my heart I'd turn her round
And tell the boys that we're homeward bound
And it's one more day on the Grey Funnel Line.
I'll pass the time like some machine
Until blue waters turn to green
Then I'll dance on down that walk ashore
And sail the Grey Funnel Line no more
And it's one more day on the Grey Funnel Line.
Chase's eyes were quite wet when I finished, he seemed to feel music very deeply. I heard the sound of shoes shifting at the doorway and turned to find Janisse and Jeff standing there looking dazed as Janisse fought back tears.
"Étienne, that was wonderful, you have a beautiful voice," Jeff offered.
"Thank you, I was just trying to teach Chase the song so we could sing it together."
"What was the song you were singing in Carter's room?" Janisse probed.
"It's called Somewhere Along the Road, I've always enjoyed singing it."
"It was beautiful, I've never heard it before, do you know who wrote it?" she wondered.
"No I don't, but the first person I heard singing it was June Tabor."
"I'll go online and listen to it again," Janisse promised. "It's a lovely song and it sure put Carter out."
"Well, he said he was pretty tired, he didn't even want a snack," I supplied.
"He must have been, he usually eats a good size sandwich before his nap. He'll be ravenous at dinner."
"Well, I have some things to finish up, so I'll leave you boys alone. Let me know if you need anything," Janisse offered, then she walked down the hall to the stairs.
"Are you boys getting to know each other pretty well?" Jeff queried.
"We've made a start Dad, I was going to ask if Étienne could spend the night and maybe we could catch a ride with you to Mr. Ozaki's shop so that Étienne can ask about some furniture for his room."
"I think that would be fine if his brother is okay with it." Jeff acknowledged.
"I can have him call you if you like, Sir."
"Not necessary, but I would like to have his number in case anything untoward happens."
"If you give me your number, I'll send them both to you now," I proposed.
Jeff gave me his number and I sent him my entire ICE list.
"Very good Étienne, thank you. No sense doing it piecemeal," Jeff responded.
"Well, you would eventually need them all if Chase or Carter goes anywhere with us, so why wait."
"Good thinking, Étienne. Chase, be sure and check with Mr. Ozaki and make sure it's okay to drop by."
"I will Dad, I was going to call right away now that you've said Étienne can stay over."
Chase picked up his phone and dialed, a man's voice answered and I heard him give Chase a cheerful greeting. I walked to Chase's bathroom to have a pee. When I returned Chase was smiling placidly.
"He says we're welcome to drop by and that early would be better than late. So we can ride over with Dad and then explore if you like, do you have an ORCA card?"
"My brother got me signed up for an ORCA card as soon as I showed up. He was living on a boat on Lake Union and said they were a great investment."
"Okay cool, that's what I have so we can go anywhere, Dad keeps mine funded along with Carter's; I carry his because they won't let him ride alone. If I'm with him on certain lines he rides free."
"I had to carry three different passes to get between home, school and practices. It was a real pain."
"We can go up to Hokey's and get some breakfast or something and then go up to Pike Place and then over to the Needle if you want. Plus there's an aquarium up that way; whatever you want to do."
"Breakfast out sounds good, Hot Pockets and Cheerios aren't getting it done for me," I quipped.
"Real healthy diet man, what do you put on the Cheerios, Mountain Dew?" Chance grinned.
"How did you know?" I laughed. "Art doesn't have a lot of stuff to cook with so we've been getting by on take out or microwave stuff. And fruit, I like a lot of fruit and Art eats it too."
Chase clucked, "Good, take out is fine occasionally but a steady diet of it will make you sick."
"We eat good food out regularly too, and Art promised he would get a few things to cook with and then we'll go shopping for cookables."
"That's good, you're always welcome here. Dad's a great cook and I'm not bad either, at least no one has died yet," Chase laughed again.
"Oh, that's a ringing endorsement right there, instead of having an A, B or C rating, your restaurant will have an N rating for "Nobody's Died," I giggled back at him.
"Yeah yeah, just wait until you taste my chicken parmesano."
"I look forward to it, but maybe we should walk over and let Art in on our plans and I'll pick up some clothes."
"Sounds good, but before we go can we um…?"
"Why don't I close this door so we can have some privacy?" I suggested.
I closed the door and went back to Chase, who was looking embarrassed.
"Don't be embarrassed Chase, it's not wrong, just kiss me."
We spent a good fifteen minutes at it and were becoming pretty proficient.
"You're really good at this," Chase whispered.
"I've got a good instructor."
Chase froze, "Who is that," he asked with a very concerned look.
"You, you big dummy. Who'd you think I meant."
He smiled back at me reassured, "So you're new to this, too?"
"Yes, do you have any other questions or can I continue?" I didn't wait for his answer.
After a while, we decided to take a break and headed over to get my stuff. Plus, Carter was up from his nap.
"If Carter asks to come with us, do I say yes?"
"Not this time, he won't be dressed, he wears his sleepers until bedtime."
"Okay, I just didn't want to say the wrong thing, I could easily keep him in my pocket, he's so cute," I recognized.
"He is cute, but he's a real person and he's pretty smart. His friends, like Auggie, seem like toddlers next to Carter, at least brain wise."
"Yes, he's very smart and open and very loving. You hit the jackpot with him, all five plus the power ball."
"Do you think it's weird that we're so close?" Chase solicited
"No, not at all, I'm close to Art but not as close as you two are."
We checked our faces in the mirror, straightened our clothes, and walked out the door and down the stairs.
"Hey, you guys just missed Janisse, she had to leave early," Carter explained.
"We spoke to her earlier. Carter, you ran right past her when you came in." Chase said.
"Dad, we are going to get Étienne things and see his brother, is that okay?"
"That's fine boys; don't be long if you want to eat. Carter will get your share if you dawdle."
"We won't be long Jeff, I don't need that much and Art will be busy working on his books."
"I'd come with you, but it's too cold now for how I'm dressed," Carter said.
"Maybe next time Carter, there's not much to see right now."
"Okay, I'll see you later." Carter said with a grin.